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GHS training deadline is approaching fast. Are your employees trained on the new labels?

Originally posted by Emily Clark on http://safety.blr.com

In March 2012, OSHA revised its Hazard Communication (HazCom) standard to align it with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, or GHS. Among the most important provisions of the new rule is standardization of the way in which chemical hazard information must be communicated on safety data sheets (SDSs) and chemical labels. Because of the scope of the revisions, OSHA has laid out a 4-year phase-in period for the GHS requirements, with full implementation by June 1, 2016.

So while it may seem like complying with the revised HazCom rule isn’t something you need to worry about immediately, the first of the GHS compliance deadlines is approaching fast. By December 1, 2013, all employees who are exposed to hazardous chemicals in the workplace must be trained on the new label elements and SDS format. Note, too, that this is the deadline for completion of the training. So if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to make sure your workers are up to speed on what they can expect from the new labels and SDSs.

Requirements for training

According to OSHA, training on the new labels must include the following:

  • Information employees can expect to see on new labels and what each label element means;
  • How employees might use labels in the workplace—for example, to ensure proper storage of hazardous materials or obtain information about first-aid measures; and
  • Information about how the elements on a label relate to one another.

Parts of a GHS-compliant label

Labels from chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors under the revised HazCom standard must contain the following elements:

  • Name, address, and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer, or other responsible party.
  • Product identifier. This is how the hazardous chemical is identified. A product identifier can be (but is not limited to) the chemical name, code number, or batch number. The manufacturer, importer, or distributor can determine the appropriate product identifier, but the same identifier must appear on both the label and in Section 1 of the SDS.
  • Signal words. These are used to communicate the severity of the hazard a chemical poses. There are only two signal words: “Danger” and “Warning.” “Danger” is used for more severe hazards; “Warning” is used for less severe hazards. Only one signal word will appear on a label, regardless of the number of hazards associated with a chemical. The signal word will reflect the most severe of the chemical’s hazards.
  • Hazard statements. These describe the nature of a chemical’s hazards and their severity. An example of a hazard statement might be “Causes severe skin burns and eye damage.” All applicable hazard statements must appear on a label, and chemical users should always see the same statement for the same hazards no matter what the chemical is or who produces it.
  • Precautionary statements. These describe preventive measures chemical users should take to reduce the risk of handling the chemical. There are four types of precautionary statements:
    • Prevention to minimize exposure,
    • Response in case of accidental spillage or exposure,
    • Storage, and
    • Disposal.
  • Supplementary information. This consists of any additional information a chemical manufacturer or distributor decides to provide, such as hazards not otherwise classified on the label, recommended personal protective equipment (PPE), directions for use, expiration date, or fill date. This section must also state the percentage of ingredients of unknown acute toxicity when present in a concentration of 1 percent or higher.
  • Pictogram. These consist of a symbol on a white background framed within a red border, and each represents a distinct hazard. The table below shows the GHS pictograms and their meanings. Note that only eight of these pictograms are mandatory; the Environment pictogram may be used, but is not required. The “hazardous to the ozone layer” designation under the Exclamation Mark pictogram is also non-mandatory, although the pictogram itself is mandatory for the other hazards it signifies.
health hazard Health hazard Denotes carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxicity, respiratory sensitizers, target organ toxicity, and aspiration toxicity
flame Flame Applies to flammables, self-heating chemicals, pyrophorics, materials that emit flammable gas, self-reactives, and organic peroxides
exclamation mark Exclamation mark Indicates that chemical is a skin and/or eye irritant, skin sensitizer, or respiratory tract irritant; causes acute toxicity; has narcotic effects; or (non-mandatory) is hazardous to the ozone layer
gas cylinder Gas cylinder Indicates gases under pressure
corrosion Corrosion Indicates skin corrosion or burns, eye damage, or metal corrosion
exploding bomb Exploding bomb Applies to explosives, self-reactives, and organic peroxides
flame over circle Flame over circle Applies to oxidizers
environment Environment Non-mandatory pictogram; denotes toxicity to the aquatic enviroment
skull and crossbones Skull and crossbones Denotes acute toxicity